Contents of this issue:

  • Putting education on speed dial
  • Covert asks for cash advance
  • Study: Catholic school closings hurt poor neighborhoods
  • Flier on candidate reception draws questions
  • MEA tops lobbyist spending list


NEWPORT, Mich. — Students at Lutheran High School South are using school-issued mobile phones to take notes, complete assignments and watch presentations this year, according to The Detroit News.

The mobile education company GoKnow, co-founded by University of Michigan engineering professor Elliot Soloway, provided the phones, The News reported. Soloway projects that every American student will use a mobile learning device within five years, according to The News.

GoKnow is among many companies moving into mobile education, The News reported. The California firm Shmoop is recruiting university students to write digital textbooks on U.S. history, economics and literature which can be purchased as mobile phone applications, it reported as another example.

"In the future, we're going to see a lot of learning shifting to phones," Vikrama Savkar, senior vice president for Scitable, told The News. Scitable is part of London-based Nature Publishing Group, which sells a mobile science library.

"Homework's more fun with the phone," Lutheran South junior Caleb Carr told The News.

The Detroit News, "Smartphones dial up learning experience," Oct.  9, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Online Learning Can Improve Michigan Education," April 13, 2010


COVERT, Mich. — Covert Public Schools has asked for an advance on state aid so that it can make payroll on Oct. 15, according to The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium. The state payment of $148,000 isn't scheduled to arrive until Oct. 20.

The October payroll is $200,000, bookkeeper June Parker reported to the board earlier this month, according to The Herald-Palladium.

Covert's revenue dropped by $2.4 million after the state reclassified some taxes at the nearby New Covert Generating power plant, The Herald-Palladium reported. The district recently won a lawsuit seeking to overturn the reclassification, but also has reduced spending by about $2 million, according to the report.

The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium, "Covert seeks fast cash," Oct. 7, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Covert owes $700,000 to MESSA," Feb. 22, 2010


GERMANTOWN, Md. — Calling urban Catholic schools an "endangered species," two researchers at Notre Dame Law School concluded that the quality of life in a neighborhood decreases when the local Catholic school closes, according to a report in CAPE Outlook.

CAPE Outlook is a publication of the Council for American Private Education.

The study focused on the impact that Catholic schools have on community life in Chicago neighborhoods, the Outlook reported.

The researchers wrote that "social cohesion decreases and disorder increases following an elementary school closure" in poor urban communities, Outlook reported.

In a letter to Congress, the authors wrote that more than 1,600 Catholic schools, most of them urban, have closed in the past 20 years, according to Outlook.

CAPE Outlook, "Neighborhood Anchors," October 2010.

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit Cristo Rey: A new option in Catholic education," June 16, 2008


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kent County Intermediate School District says that a flier it distributed through school e-mail announcing the "MEA Grassroots — Patrick Miles Reception," describes an educational forum, not a political event, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Campaign finance law prohibits public bodies like school districts from using e-mails to promote political events, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

Miles is endorsed by the Kent County Education Association, which said on its blog that the event is a "rally" at which "members are invited to participate and listen and meet Pat Miles, our endorsed 3rd district candidate," the report said.

The district invited both Miles and his competitor, Republican Justin Amash, to attend the event to discuss Congressional educational issues, Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent Ron Koehler told Capitol Confidential. Amash declined and did not suggest an alternative date when asked, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

The men are candidates in the U.S. 3rd Congressional race, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

"It seems quite the stretch," Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told Michigan Capitol Confidential about sending out the flier through the school e-mail.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy publishes Michigan Capitol Confidential and Michigan Education Digest.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Kent ISD Resources Used to Promote a 'Reception' for Democrat Congressional Candidate," Oct. 6, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "School District Resources Used for Candidate Campaign Announcement," Feb. 26, 2010


LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Education Association spent nearly $292,000 on lobbying in Lansing in the first seven months of 2010, up 22 percent from a year ago, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The release said that the teachers union was the top-spending interest group.

Multi-client lobbyist firms, such as Governmental Consultant Services Inc., spent more overall, but are not required to report how much they spend on individual clients, the release said.

Reports do not indicate which legislation, spending or regulations each lobbyist is trying to affect, according to the news release. Lobbyists also are not required to report expenditures that directly benefit officeholders unless that spending meets threshold requirements, the release said.

For example, loans or sales between lobbyists and officeholders do not have to be reported unless they exceed $1,100, according to the Campaign Finance Network, and travel and lodging provided to officeholders for "official business" doesn't have to be reported unless the value exceeds $725.

Michigan Campaign Finance Network, "Lobbyists report spending $17.8M through July," Oct. 7, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Lawmaker lobbies against lobbyist," Aug. 12, 2010

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to